Sometimes it’s helpful to have low expectations. I knew I
would derive some pleasure from watching Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas,
Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline in Last
Vegas, but I was fearful of a stupid and/or condescending comedy in the
mold of Grumpy Old Men—which I found
pretty moldy. Indeed, this is a kissin’ cousin to that hit of twenty years ago,
and has a predictable number of “old” jokes, but it’s also fun to watch…more
fun than I expected it to be. Director Jon Turteltaub and screenwriter Dan
Fogelman are experienced at turning out slick, commercial entertainment, but
they’ve upped their game here, with four gifted actors at their command.
You can connect the dots of a screenplay like this just from seeing the trailer. Four lifelong friends from Flatbush, Brooklyn reunite when one of them (Douglas) decides to marry his much-younger girlfriend in Las Vegas. This involves Freeman sneaking away from his loving but overprotective son in New Jersey, Kline getting permission from his understanding wife in Florida, and the two of them convincing reclusive De Niro to leave his Brooklyn apartment, where he’s still mourning the loss of his wife. De Niro and Douglas have unresolved issues, which provide a (somewhat) dramatic undercurrent to the reunion. Then, in Sin City they both find themselves attracted to a lovely lounge singer, nicely played by Mary Steenburgen.
This is formulaic storytelling, to be sure, but the actors seem to be having a good time, the settings are flashy, and most important, the jokes are pretty good. Last Vegas doesn’t break any new ground, but it delivers on its promise and allows us to spend time with four of the best actors alive—even if they never break a sweat. Call me a sucker if you like, but I had a good time watching this movie.